重阳节 The Double-Ninth Festival
The Double-Ninth Festival
The Double-Ninth Festival falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month and has a history of more than 1,700 years.
Among Chinese numbers, one, three, five, seven and nine are positive numbers and two, four, six and eight are negative ones. Thus, the ninth day of the ninth lunar month is called Double-Positive or Double-Nine. The Double-Ninth Festival sees various activities such as climbing a mountain, admiring chrysanthemums, wearing cornel (Cornus officinalis) and eating Double-Ninth cake, etc.
As an alien visitor in a strange land all by myself,
I think all the more of my loved ones on every festive occasion.
I know in the far away that when my brothers climb the mountain,
All wear cornel but one person is absent.
-- Tang Dynasty Wang Wei
Missing Brothers in Shandong on the Double-Ninth Day
Ancient people thought climbing a mountain on this day could help them avoid misfortune and prevent disasters, and this gradually evolved into a relaxation and exercise.
It is also the traditional custom to wear cornel and admire chrysanthemums. Cornel is a kind of plant with edible fruit, while its stem and leaves have medicinal value. Chrysanthemum blooms in September, and enjoys the reputation of a "flower of Longevity". To prevent plague and drive off foul smells, people wear cornel and chrysanthemum on the Double-Ninth Festival, and drink tea and wine made from the flowers.
Made of flour, the Double-Ninth cake can be sweet if jujube, ginkgo, pine nuts and apricot kernel are added, or salty if meat is added. Some exquisite cakes are made into nine layers with a pattern of two sheep above, which is homophonic of "Double Ninth".
There is no longer any custom of wearing cornel on the Double-Ninth Festival, but many people will climb a mountain, admire chrysanthemums and appreciate the beautiful scenery of autumn. In recent years, new contents have been added into this ancient festival, which has become a time to show respect for the elderly. People hold various activities in honor of senior citizens, wishing them good health and a long life.